What is Networking?
Networking - to an IT person, this means connecting communication devices for the mutual benefit of many.
The same can be said for social networking, business networking and romantic networking. It all comes down to communication. What do you have that can be beneficial to someone else and vice-versa?
Why do people need to network?
Well, for many reasons; you may have a business to grow, an event to promote, a product to sell or a love to find. The reasons are numerous. You either have something that interests others or you are interested in something someone else has. Networking grows your business and social connections. We have all heard the stories about someone who connected a friend of theirs to a new job, a great deal or a new relationship.
This is networking. It is meeting people, finding a connection and forging new bonds.
Sounds simple - right? It can be and it can also be daunting. You want your message to be simple, clear and to the point yet without being blunt.
"Hi, my name is George and I sell ball-bearings. Everything runs better with ball-bearings so buy my ball-bearings." While being clear, concise and to the point, it isn't very exciting.
The first thing to learn about networking is something called the "Elevator Speech." It breaks down who you are, what you do and why someone should come and talk to you. It should last no more than 90 seconds. That may not seem like a lot of time but it is a minute and a half. You will want to be sure to start and finish with your name. State an objective, (i.e. - I am here to meet people interested in ball-bearings). It should also include something interesting about you, (i.e. I collect Mayan art). And finally, it should also give people a reason to talk to you, (i.e. I give the best deals on ball-bearings in the tri-state area.)
Your elevator speech should never run over the alloted time or get into drawn out stories, (the time the monkey stole your hat at the San Diego Zoo was funny but it really isn't that interesting to a group of business men).
In essence, you are selling yourself. So be sure to speak clearly and loud enough to be heard. Smile and make eye contact. You want the result to be people coming up to you. Practice what you are going to say beforehand. Ask a trusted friend to listen to your elevator speech and critique it. Watch yourself in a mirror. And ask yourself, "Would I come up and talk to me?"
Yes - it IS scary at first. But the more you do it, the better you become. You will end up building a large resource base for all of your needs. And people will start to seek you out for advice, (What do you think of this Mayan pottery piece being offered on ebay?)
Networking - it grows on you.
Atend the next Networking With Style on October 16th at Fiddleheads Restaurant in Jmesburg. Let us know you will join us!
Tom Callahan is a Certified Professional Coach as well as being a Senior Living and Elder Care Consultant. He is a self-described "Serial Networker". He started, built and sold a service company that he never advertised but made successful through networking and referrals. Tom now heads AFI Coaching and Consulting - a Senior Living and Elder Care consulting company. He is one of the co-founders of Networking With Style - a LGBT Networking Group.